By Will Grice
For the Forsyth County News
Lambert held on to defeat Gainesville 37-28 Friday on senior night.
The first half went about as well as the Longhorns could hope. Lambert’s first drive ended in an Alex Mitchell 30-yard field goal to put the Longhorns up 3-0. Three plays later, Lambert safety Davis Dobbs intercepted a pass and took it 20 yards for the touchdown.
The Gainesville offense marched right back on the field and proceeded to do nothing except lose five yards over three plays. The Longhorns got the ball back at midfield and went to work.
The dynamic Longhorn trio of James Tyre, Ethan Terry and Kojo Antwi drove the ball down field with little resistance. Antwi took a jet sweep on the last play of the first quarter and ran 20 yards for a touchdown to put Lambert up 17-0.
After punts by both teams, Gainesville got the ball back around midfield. The Red Elephants still couldn’t find any rhythm on offense and had to punt again. The worst thing that could happen for Gainesville did and the snap sailed over the head of their punter and rolled down to their own 8-yard line, where Lambert recovered it. On the next play, Terry ran it in for the touchdown and the commanding 24-0 lead.
“I think they underestimated us to start the game,” Lambert head coach Tommy Watson said. “They quickly made some changes they needed to, though.”
Gainesville’s next drive saw its offense finally get going; the Red Elephants drove 80 yards for a touchdown to get on the scoreboard before halftime.
Lambert got the ball into the red zone again before halftime, but the drive stalled and Mitchell missed a field goal to keep the score at 24-7 going into halftime. Even with the missed field goal, all signs seemed to be pointing to another blowout win for the Longhorns.
Lambert received the second half kickoff and was able to return it all the way to Gainesville’s 26-yard line thanks to the Red Elephant’s decision to squib kick it. Tyre capitalized on the great field position and scored on a 19-yard touchdown run.
At this point, with the Longhorns up 31-7 with 10 minutes left in the third quarter, there seemed to be no way Gainesville could come back and make the game competitive. But the Red Elephants had not yet given up. Gainesville dominated the next 20 minutes of game time, scoring 21 straight points.
A 65-yard touchdown drive by Gainesville made the score 31-14, and the Longhorns followed that up with a three-and-out. A botched snap on the punt gave Gainesville the ball at the Longhorn 12-yard line, and two plays later Gainesville was in the end zone again.
Gainesville forced a stop on the next Longhorn drive, but a muffed punt gave the ball back to Lambert.
Gainesville kept their composure and forced a three-and-out to get the ball back at their own 5-yard line before moving the ball to their own 40-yard line. The Lambert defense was on their heels and needed a play to get them off the field. That's when Longhorn safety Darren Guy intercepted a deep pass to force Gainesville's offense off the field and slow down the Red Elephants' momentum.
Lambert went go three-and-out once again and Gainesville got the ball back right where they left it after the interception. Nine plays later, the Red Elephants were in the end zone again and a 24-point deficit was now just three.
With four minutes left, Lambert needed a drive to ice the game and prevent a disastrous end to senior night. After Lambert recovered an onside kick, Terry sealed the game for the Longhorns with a 44-yard touchdown run.
Lambert got one last stop to put an end to the Gainesville comeback and move to 5-1 on the season.
“This is a team that is still learning how to win,” said Watson. “We are building a winning culture and need to learn from our mistakes we made this game.”
Lambert [5-1, 1-1 Region 6-7A] will travel to Denmark Oct. 8.